During which we take the GX tenting on the 2015 Pikes Peak Worldwide Hill Climb
On the finish of June, I drove from Denver to Pikes Peak and covered the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for this publication. Last year, I camped with some pals at Halfway Picnic Ground after climbing up the mountain in a caged Checker Marathon race car. This was enjoyable, however even a race-winning Checker has numerous drawbacks in terms of such actions as driving off-street to a campsite, hauling numerous tenting tools and seating passengers in consolation above garden-chair-in-boxcar ranges.
We had three individuals driving within the Lexus and we anticipated to fulfill up with three extra on the campsite, which implies loads of gear.
Three folks can be driving within the GX, and we deliberate to satisfy a couple of extra on the campsite. Since we wished to prepare dinner a pleasant Italian dinner on Saturday evening, we introduced fairly a bit of substances. At this level, I bumped into the problem that all the time comes up when packing an SUV: from the surface, they appear to be they should have much more cargo room than they really have on the within. As a way to do actual-truck issues off-street, these vehicles have full frames and plenty of cumbersome mechanical gear beneath; coupled with the necessity to have existence-of-exterior-world-denying sound insulation plus crash safety, this ends in a automobile that holds about as a lot stuff as a lot smaller wagons or hatchbacks.
I used to be joking after I informed my fellow campers that my beater ’92 Honda Civic holds as a lot stuff as this 5,000-plus-pound monster, however we ended up filling up one of many again seats with our stuff. This is not Toyota’s fault — they’ve completed a pleasant execution of a midsize SUV right here — however it factors out the fact that a variety of patrons of vehicles like this (i.e., those who by no means depart the asphalt as they drive from house to work to mall) aren’t making their automobile purchases for logical causes.
Heading up Pikes Peak, with energy to spare even at 5-digit elevation.
At this level, I used to be pondering that I might have been higher off getting an excellent-plush and roomy Lexus LS 460 F Sport, however the GX460 turned out to be very civilized on the freeway south to the mountain. A advantage of driving an enormous silver luxurious SUV within the Denver space is that I (lastly) felt that I slot in with my fellow Coloradans; that is the automobile sort of selection for an enormous chunk of the inhabitants in these components, with the Detroit, German, and Japanese variations on this theme seen on each highway at any time.
One small factor that appears noteworthy is the shortage of ache concerned with pairing a Bluetooth system and — practically as vital — resuming the connection after a shut-down/restart of the car; if a Mercedes-Benz scores a a hundred on the put-your-fist-by-the-sprint-out-of-frustration-O-meter when it comes time to get your cellphone to speak to the automobile, this truck scores a few 19.
The again seat gives comfy seating for 2, cramped seating for 3.
Lexus does not hassle to make the inside of their automobiles really feel like oppressively stultifying London searching lodges in 1899; as a substitute, the whole lot right here could be very snug and Toyota-wise. There is a powered fold-up third-row again seat, which I by no means used, and area for a theoretical third passenger in the midst of the second-row seat, however usually, this car might be handled as a really massive 4-seater.
The facet-opening rear hatch spares you the concern of bonking your head throughout operation, however in any other case simply received in the way in which of tenting.
As soon as we obtained to the tenting space, reaching the primo areas with the picnic tables mandated that I drive the GX a number of hundred yards over some delicate bumps and tree roots — nothing that almost all subcompacts could not have dealt with, however the Lexus plowed proper over them just like the Land Cruiser Prado it’s. Quickly after getting unpacked and beginning dinner, I noticed that there aren’t any sources of digital-gadget-charging energy which are powered up when the automobile is shut down, and I did not really feel like futzing with limitless menu settings to make the truck’s accent setting keep away from “battery-saving” mode robotically. This was one thing of a headache, however one which an actual-world proprietor of the GX would kind out shortly.
A couple of hours after this, rowdy Pikes Peak spectators would flip this tranquil setting into a celebration zone.
The GX turned out to be a great base of operations for me as a Race Reporter, particularly when a wild lightning-and-hail-and-snow-storm blew in through the afternoon of race day and I needed to sit it out within the Lexus. I used to be capable of doc the Pikes Peak EV record being broken and match all the things again within the truck for the journey residence afterwards.
I nonetheless assume the sort of car would not make sense for most individuals, however that it is a good selection in case you’re the uncommon particular person who wants luxurious on the freeway and the power to crash via the woods to your distant cabin in Alaska.